Asian Spiced Sticky Maple Sauce

29 03 2011



Maple syrup is delicious and versatile

It’s maple season!  March and April are the peak times for maple syrup production in eastern Canada and the northeastern United States.  Warm days + cool nights = excellent sap flow.  It’s a time consuming and laborious process: it takes about 40 gallons of sap to make just one gallon of syrup. However, the results are well worth it and there are countless delicious recipes that showcase this beautiful sweet elixir.

I enjoy maple syrup in many forms: as a topping for pancakes and french toast, cooked into desserts and occasionally in savoury dishes. Savoury dishes (ie. not desserts) are a less common way to use maple but the results are just as delicious. This Asian-inspired sauce is absolutely fantastic on chicken and pork. Note that the sauce is quite sweet so it should be brushed onto the meat in the last few minutes of cooking or it will burn to a crisp.

Most ingredients should be readily available at supermarkets but if you can’t find shao hsing rice wine (a.k.a. shaoxing or Chinese rice wine), you can substitute dry sherry or gin (or just leave it out). Chinese five spice powder can be made from common spices can’t find it already blended.

For more great maple ideas, check out the Maple Archives.

Asian Spiced Sticky Maple Sauce

Makes about 1 cup

  • 2 teaspoons neutral oil such as canola or safflower
  • 3 cloves garlic, very finely minced
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons finely minced ginger (about a 1″ piece of fresh ginger, peeled and minced)
  • 5 green onions, finely chopped (white and light green parts only, save the green tops for garnish)
  • 1 teaspoon (more or less, to taste) red pepper flakes
  • 1/3 cup sodium-reduced soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup hoisin sauce
  • 1 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 2 Tablespoons shao hsing (shaoxing) Chinese rice wine (see above for substitutions)
  • 1 Tablespoon white vinegar
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons Chinese five spice powder
  • To garnish: toasted sesame seeds and chopped green onion tops (optional)
  1. In a medium saucepan, add the oil and heat on medium-high. Add the garlic, ginger and green onion and reduce the heat to medium. Sauté until softened, stirring constantly to prevent burning, about two minutes.
  2. Add the red pepper flakes and cook for another 30 seconds.
  3. Pour in the soy sauce, hoisin, maple syrup, ketchup, sesame oil, rice wine and white vinegar.  Stir until smooth.  Add the Chinese five spice powder and stir to combine.
  4. Simmer the sauce on medium-low heat until it begins to thicken, about 15 minutes. Stir occasionally.
  5. Remove the sauce from the heat and let cool a bit.  Strain the sauce to remove the ginger and onion chunks, if desired.
  6. Brush sauce onto grilled, baked or roasted meats in the last 10 minutes of cooking. Sauce can be kept covered in the fridge for a few days.  Garnish the finished dish with toasted sesame seeds and chopped green onion tops.

Suggestions: The sauce is delicious on pork, chicken, beef, shrimp and firm tofu.

Bon Appétit and Enjoy!

Pork ribs are delicious with Asian Spiced Sticky Maple Sauce

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Copyright Trish Coleman. Please contact the author to obtain permission for republication.



Maple Syrup Season

24 03 2010


A sugar shack, where maple syrup is produced


Maple syrup is one of the great treats of spring.  The sap in maple trees begins to flow when the temperature climbs above freezing during the day but the nights remain cool.  By March, conditions are ideal and a trip to a sugar shack (known as a cabane à sucre in Quebec) is a great activity for the whole family.  

A stand selling maple products on Ste-Catherine Street in Montreal


I remember visiting sugar shacks as a kid and loved the sweet, smoky smell of the boilers cooking down the maple sap, turning it into the golden elixir we pour on our pancakes.  There were always maple treats that went beyond bottle syrup such as maple taffy poured onto the snow, maple butter, maple candies and maple sugar. Many sugar shacks also offer hearty, rustic meals of pancakes, pork and baked beans to showcase their syrup.  Each spring, Martin Picard, chef and owner of the famed Montreal restaurant Au Pied de Cochon, opens a version of a cabane à sucre featuring his unique take on the Quebec maple experience. Cabane à Sucre Au Pied de Cochon is located about 45 minutes from Montreal in St-Benoît de Mirabel. However, reservations can be hard to come by (this season is fully booked) so plan ahead if you want to go next year.  I haven’t been to the cabane à sucre yet (hopefully next year!) but if it’s anything like Au Pied de Cochon, you’re in for a treat, especially if you enjoy foie gras.  

Cans of Quebec maple syrup at Jean Talon Market, Montreal


If you can’t make it to a sugar shack and want to enjoy maple syrup at home, here are a few delicious ideas:

Spicy Maple-Dijon Glaze – Brush on ham, bacon or a pork roast or use as a dip or spread for sandwiches.

Maple-Caramel Custards with Sea Salt – This rich and creamy custard is the perfect way to end a meal.

Pumpkin French Toast – A breakfast treat with the flavours of pumpkin pie.  Top it off with a healthy drizzle of real maple syrup.

Pancakes – Skip the accompanying blueberry sauce in favour of some maple syrup.

Pumpkin Pie with Maple-Walnut Praline – A classic pie with a delicious and decorative twist.

Baked French Toast – Breakfast is made easy with a dish that is prepped the night before and baked in the morning.  

Maple Nut Oatmeal – Warm up on cold mornings with a sweet and nutty treat.

Brussels Sprouts with Bacon and Maple – Dress up dreaded brussels sprouts with a maple based glaze that brings out the best in this underrated vegetable.

A maple based glaze highlights the sweetness of brussels sprouts


Bon Appétit and Enjoy!